Sentara Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Breast Implant Illness
Breast Implant Illness is a term used by women who have breast implants and who describe a wide variety of symptoms, including, but not limited to, fatigue, hair loss, and sleep disturbance. But none of these symptoms have been medically linked to BII.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Brian Showalter has recently noticed a spike in online conversations regarding the illness.
"Breast Implant Illness is a new entity that we're learning more about as plastic surgeons. It's something that's gained a lot of attention on social media," he said.
One Facebook group dedicated to voicing concerns of BII has more than 99,000 members. However, doctors say the problem is these people are self-diagnosing an illness that does not yet have diagnostic testing.
"Breast implants have been studied for decades. To date, there is no concrete, scientific evidence that silicone breast implants, or even leaking silicone gel, is directly associated with these symptoms," said Showalter.
But the lack of a direct, proven scientific link does not discredit the symptoms experienced by these patients. Still, Showalter does not advise anyone to turn to the Internet for answers.
"The treatments that are put forward [on] social media are that the best treatment is implant removal, and to remove all the tissue immediately around the implant. But there are some potential complications that can result from any surgery. We need to make sure that that's the operation that you need to have done," he said.
Although breast implants have not yet been medically linked to any ongoing illnesses, Showalter says patients who believe they may be suffering as a result of their implants should see a professional.
"As a scientific community, we cannot say that it is there yet or not, but that we are definitely, actively looking at it. and we are certainly open and willing to listen to people who believe that they may be having these symptoms," he said.
To find a list of symptoms that are thought to be related to Breast Implant Illness, click on the link in the Related Links box.